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Leonardo Gonzalez
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Learn Basic Programming with Kodu Game Lab: A 3D Game Development Environment for Kids

Kodu Game Lab is a 3D game development environment that is designed to teach kids basic programming principles. Kodu allows creators to build the world's terrain, populate it with characters and props, and then program their behaviors and games rules in a bespoke visual programming language. Kodu originated as a project in Microsoft Research. The original target platform was the Xbox 360 using C#, XNA, and releasing via the Indie Games Channel. The choice of releasing on the Xbox informed much of the early UI development since everything needed to be done using a game controller. Since porting to the PC, support for keyboard, mouse, and touch have been added. The goal for Kodu has always been to be as easy as possible for new users. Guided by this goal, we've tended to design new features so that they are simple and understandable rather than more complex and complete.

Kodu lets kids create games on Windows PCs via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game, young children as well as adults with no design or programming skills.

kodu game lab

Brought by Microsoft, Kodu is a game utility that is designed especially for kids to effectively learn basic programming principles. This 3D game development platform enables the young creators to build the world's terrain filled with characters and props which you will then program its behaviors and games rules using a visual programming language.

Kodu is a Microsoft experiment that's still in development. This means that you should expect a few bugs and the odd crash, but other than that it's perfectly usable. Actually, what you'll find here is going to be radically different from any other coding editor. It's a kid-oriented programming environment that allows any users to build their own games, without writing a single line of code.

Moreover, it features an eye-catching design that makes it feel like a game by itself. It includes lessons and sample games to get you started and make things even easier. You'll find a handful of ready-made objects, characters, and obstacles, which you can arrange with a keyboard and mouse as well as program it with a special card system.

Kodu is an intuitive children-oriented game tool with which users can easily create their own videogames without any coding skills required. There are some obvious limitations to Kodu, as it's intended for kids with little or no experience in coding. Nevertheless, it's a fun and colorful way to get them started in the hobby of making video games.

Kodu is a visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The visual nature of the language allows for rapid design iteration using only an Xbox game controller for input (mouse/keyboard input is also supported).

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Kodu Game Lab is a tile-based visual programming tool that enables users to learn programming concepts through making and playing computer games. Kodu is a relatively new programming language designed specifically for young children to learn through independent exploration. It is integrated in a real-time isometric 3D gaming environment that is designed to compete with modern console games in terms of intuitive user interface and graphical production values.

Our Video GameMaker program, Kodu Game Lab lets students become producers as well as consumers of these widely played games. This Kodu Game Lab program consists of a series of courses for students in grades 1 to 8 offered throughout the year.

Students are introduced to the basics of game development while learning to use Kodu gamemaking software. This software uses a visual programming language designed to be accessible to children and made specifically for creating games.

In less than an hour I'd made my first game. Admittedly, it was a game in which you drive an unmanned unicycle around an abandoned piece of scrubland while attempting to shoot down a host of flying sharks with some multi-coloured lasers to a custom soundtrack of Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon". But crikey, if it wasn't just about the best unicycle-based, sea-predator-themed, crooner-soundtracked shoot-'em-up you've never played.

Videogame creator toolkits are far from a novelty. From the Commodore 64's Pinball Construction Set to the N64's Dezaemon 3D shoot-'em-up creation package (not to mention the multitude of level editors bundled in with just about every PC first-person shooter) game-building tools for consumers have been a niche but consistent feature of the gaming landscape. And, of course, the success of LittleBigPlanet's recent efforts to democratise game design, pressing the game's full creation toolset into players' hands, has popularised living room game-making like never before.

But Kodu Game Lab's ambitions outstrip those of its distant rivals, not to mention its paltry price point of 400 MSP. Here your creations are not bound to a single genre or set of game rules, or even a single visual style. Rather, this ostensibly-for-kids game-creation set has broadened its boundaries to encompass everything from third-person shooters to racing games to RPGs. While you're never going to be able to turn out the next Gears of War-alike with its modest XNA-based engine, you've a good chance of being able to approximate any ideas you may have, and the limits of what's possible are wide enough to allow your imagination a long leash.

That gently hyperbolic introduction out of the way, it's probably best to set some realistic expectations. Kodu Game Lab, while designed by Microsoft's employees, has enjoyed no special treatment in finding its way onto Xbox Live's indie game portal. Created in XNA and delivered to XNA, it has been subjected to all of the same restrictions as any enthusiast developer working for the platform.

If you are already a games programmer of even modest ability, you'll no doubt find this package restrictive, simplistic and a bit pointless. That's fine. Kodu Game Lab isn't for you. It's for us, the giant throng of gamers who feel like they might have the germ of a good idea for a game but don't have the time to learn C++ or LUA script in order to scale the massive learning curve that sits between our idea and our game. At the very least, it's for those of us who would like to understand just a little bit more about how videogames are put together, and on that basis, it's a triumph.

From first touch, Kodu Game Lab is teaching these principles. Sensibly, the game opens with a tutorial, rather than a blank sheet of 3D space. You're shown a pastoral scene containing a character standing on a pathway leading up to a tower atop a small hill. A speech bubble pops up with a challenge: "Program the character to automatically walk towards the character." And you're off. Clicking on the Kodu allows you to edit its behaviours in a string of accessible, well-presented commands.

Kodu Game Lab is a complete, 3-D game development environment designed to be accessible to children as young as 9 years old. The core of Kodu is a custom visual programming language, which blends ease of use with expressibility.

Kodu lets kids create games on the PC and Xbox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game, young children as well as adults with no design or programming skills.

Kodu Game Lab is the perfect application to get children interested in game production the easy, codeless way! Children just have to launch the application, choose a template (or use an empty world!) and create a course for their 'Kodu' character to follow. Adding actions is as easy as using an on-screen horizontal flowchart to customise key press actions, mouse movements and other actions with ease. Once a trigger has been added, just a few more clicks can add ammo, movement and other actions. Kodu Game Lab is built on Microsoft's XNA Game Studio 3.1, the same framework used by the professionals to export to the PC, Xbox and Zune platforms. With Kodu you can have all that power without the complex coding required if you didn't use Kodu.

Created games can easily be uploaded to the Kodu community where fellow Kodu users can also publish their work. With plenty of included lessons, tutorials and sample world to build on, Kodu Game Lab can be used by people of any age and be picked up in minutes.

In this session, students were introduced to basic coding concepts and design skills using Kodu. We coached students on designing terrain as well as coding their first single player game, multiplayer game, and autonomous game. With just a few days of instruction, students 9-14-year-old were already engineering their own Kodu multiplayer mob game and racing game with beautiful terrain and responsive obstacles

A student build a fully functional multiplayer competition with keyboard and mouse input, which keeps track of the points scored by submarines collecting seashells underwater. The Kodu app serves as an open-ended game creation tool where the students design their own terrain, create their own directions, and code their own characters.

With a single player game creation, another student programed a racing game with six autonomous characters and a single player entangled in competition to reach the finish, the castle, first. The autonomous characters each followed their own path designed by the student. The student designed the racetrack with hidden minefields to avoid along the racecourse.

The Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University prepares students for positions of leadership and responsibility in a variety of media and communication fields including TV, cinema, radio, interactive media, games, web, media management, media research and the management of many other forms of information communication technology.


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